Alabama survives fourth quarter rally to top A&M, 49-42
Published: Saturday, September 14, 2013
Updated: Saturday, September 14, 2013 23:09
Johnny Manziel accounted for 562 total yards and five touchdowns against No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, putting 42 points on the board against a notoriously stingy defense — but it wasn't enough.
Alabama outlasted a fourth-quarter rally by No. 6 A&M and Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron's 334 yards and four touchdowns paced the 49-42 win.
"We just played a really good football team, the No. 1 team in the country, and I was proud of the effort," A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "You can't always do everything right, and no one can say this team quit."
The 87,596 fans in attendance at Kyle Field — and the countless additional viewers of the nationally televised broadcast — anticipated the revenge match after the season. A&M topped Alabama 29-24 in Tuscaloosa last season, springboarding Manziel's eventual Heisman bid.
Defensive shortcomings and turnovers would unhinge an A&M attack that showed life early. Alabama scored 35 unanswered points to counter a 14-0 A&M start reminiscent of it's 20-0 start in 2012.
Sophomore Mike Evans broke a single-game program record with seven catches for 279 yards and a touchdown, including a 95-yard scoring grab with eight minutes remaining that brought the game within one score. The play was the second-longest reception in A&M history.
"I couldn't be prouder [of Evans]," Manziel said. "In my eyes, Mike Evans is the best receiver in college football. I see him everyday. I see how he works against defenders and it's just amazing. A big guy like him who gives his all every game. He played solid throughout the whole game."
McCarron was efficient, completing 20-29 passes without an interception. But Manziel electrified the crowd with 98 yards rushing on 13 carries and completed 28-39 passes for 464 yards and five touchdowns.
Manziel did, however, throw a pair of interceptions. One came in the endzone and the other was returned 73 yards for a touchdown by Vinnie Sunseri.
Alabama's T.J. Yeldon tallied 149 yards on 25 carries and tacked on a touchdown.
Much was made of the return from suspension of several starters on the A&M defense. Crowd noise and defensive pressure forced a three-and-out on Alabama's first series, but missed tackles and blown assignments in the secondary allowed the Tide to pile on 35 unanswered points.
Malcome Kennedy, forever memorialized in highlight videos for his game-winning touchdown catch in Tuscaloosa last season, scored three touchdowns Saturday.
After Kennedy's third touchdown, A&M was down just seven points with 15 seconds remaining. The onside kick from Taylor Bertolet, however, rolled easily into the arms of Alabama's Amari Cooper. McCaroon took a knee to seal the game.